On a Library Fast

I almost made a New Year’s Resolution to not go to the library this year. Yep, to give up the library.

My wife and I go at least once a week, usually just to pick up books we have on hold. Then I hit up the library website two or three times a week, to explore interesting books I’ve heard about and check if my branch has them. And if they don’t? Yep, let’s ILL that sucker. (That’s interlibrary loan, natch).

So… what’s wrong with all that? What’s wrong with avidly reading and using up my already allocated tax dollars? Nothing. Except I have tons of books at my house. And they’re just kinda sitting around.

There are books I’ve picked up from stores, thought I was going to read right away and then didn’t. They’re just… there, waiting on me to make a decision. And I never did. At least, not until now.

My wife pointed out that requesting everything from the library, whenever it struck me, was a blind consumerist impulse. That I wasn’t taking time to explore what I already have, and in a way I was just acquiring more stuff. We’ve been really diligent this year about considering what we really need — for books and other things, too.

We’ve realized that having that many books around just gives us a false sense of pride: YES, LOOK AT HOW WELL-READ AND SMART WE ARE! Even though we hadn’t read many of the books. Not to mention they’re mostly all available from the library or via digital copies.

Does that mean we’re getting rid of all of our books? No. We’re just trying to read the ones we have, then pass them on.

So I’m on a fast from the library. The other day I was looking at my bookshelves, not picking up anything, because I’m used to reading only library books. They’re always due soon, of course. But now that’s not an option, so I’m forcing myself to read the books from my own collection. And if I’m forcing myself to read them… I probably don’t need to own them. The culling process begins.


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